Elavil Therapy For Use in Interstitial Cystitis

Although only one drug has been FDA approved specifically for interstitial cystitis, Elmiron, treating interstitial cystitis has always been a “brand off” approach. “Brand off” is where drugs not specifically designed for the illness or disease are used because of their side effects. For example, interstitial cystitis patients are given anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, antispasmodics, pain medication, and even some antiseizure medication.

Elavil is the brand name for the drug amitriptyline. The other brand name for the drug is Endep . It is given to mental health patients to elevate mood by increasing the neurotransmitters in the brain. Typically, this drug is prescribed for more than one reason to interstitial cystitis sufferers. It is available in tablet form in the dosages of 10mg, 25 mg, 50mg, 75mg, 100mg and in 150mg.

Sleep Effects

Elavil tends to make one drowsy after taking, and therefore is typically prescribed to be taken at night before bed. For this reason it is given to interstitial cystitis sufferers to help them sleep through the night without having to wake up to go to the bathroom multiple times. Also, even if one doesn’t typically get up at night, it will still give them a better night sleep and will help them feel better throughout the day because they were able to rest. According to Dr. Robert Moore (Director of Advanced Pelvic Surgery and Co-Director of Urogynecology at Atlanta Urogynecology Associates, a “low dose helps to elevate the patient’s pain threshold, i.e. the level that the pain fibers fire at in the spinal cord. These nerves are super sensitive and fire very easily at very low input levels; Elavil helps to elevate these levels so they don’t fire so easily at low levels.”

Pain Effects

Elavil will give a slight boost to treating and dealing with pain. It isn’t a pain medication, but it does “take an edge off”. This makes living with interstitial cystitis a bit easier. Its sedative effects help with the pain of the bladder. It raises your pain threshold so that lower level pain isn’t felt as much, and you are much more able to cope.


There are many drug interactions with Elavil. If you are taking an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibiting drugs) you may get a high fever, convulse, or even die while on Elavil / Endep.

If you have seizures or are at risk for having a seizure, you should not take this drug.

You should not take Epinephrine (what is known as an Epipen, given to those with severe allergic reactions) while on this drug as it raises your chance of severe high blood pressure. If you have risk factors for allergies severe enough that you carry an Epipen you need to let your doctor know prior to filling this drug prescription.